Thursday, March 14, 2013

Previewing the Vermont Catamounts

Well, it is here. This is why guys come to Boston College and play hockey. To win in the playoffs. For the first time since the 2010 season, BC will be playing someone other than UMass-Amherst in the first round of the Hockey East tournament as they will get set to play their 3rd, 4th, and 5th consecutive games versus the Vermont Catamounts. Honestly, there is not much I can tell you. I mean, they know us and we know them. Obviously, they have proven that they can play with the Eagles, evident by the 4-4 tie between the two clubs last Friday. Saturday's game was a bit different though as the Eagles dominated from start to finish, winning by a final count of 7-2 @ Gutterson Field House. Before I get into the numbers and stats, BC will be at 100% this weekend as Patch Alber is set to make his first start since injuring his knee during a pregame kick-around in late December @ Mariucci Arena. Like Coach York said earlier this week, Alber's return can only help this team. With him out, guys like Jeke, Doherty, Matheson, and Sullivan (all inexperienced freshman) were playing minutes that they probably weren't excepted to log at the season start. It's not just the ice time that Alber with help with though, his work ethic, defensive zone play, and depth will be huge come this weekend. Earlier this year, Alber was certainly one of, if not the best, defensive defenseman on this team. Are my expecting him to return to his early season form ? Not really, but do I think he can make a huge impact once he gets going ? Certainly. It may take a whole period or two for him to get back into the swing of things but I think as time goes on, he will be fine.

As for the forwards, the week off could not have come at a better time. Not only were guys tired from a long road trip to UVM, they were really beat up. The days off on Sunday and Monday (Tuesday for some) really seemed to rejuvenate this club. As we saw on Saturday, these guys can be pretty dangerous when they're getting out in space and playing Eagle hockey. As for the series, I expect that UVM is going to play worlds better than they did on Saturday night. Expect them to come out stronger, faster, and take less penalties because when they were in the sin bin last weekend, the Eagles made them pay big time. Vermont is going to try and get that early one or two goal lead and completely  shut down the neutral zone, such as Lowell and Providence did vs the Eagles. In order for BC to be successful against this, they've got to find a way to open this game up. Shots, odd man rushes, and skating north south for long periods of time will really help BC. For the Eagles to be successful, they want to play a game at their tempo, a high octane tempo with speed through the neutral zone. The first period tomorrow has got to be all about trying to establish that.

The bottom line is BC has got to be ready. This isn't going to be some walk in the park...Vermont is going to be licking their chops for a chance to pull of the major upset and extend their season for another week. I think if BC continues to build on what they did last week in the offensive zone and is able to shore up their defensive zone play, an area where Alber's return will certainly help, they have a great chance to get to the Garden.

Injury report-



Alber- In

Keys for the Eagles-

1. Playing the game at their pace and keeping the puck down low. Keep the puck in their end for as long as possible. The time of possession for Saturday's game was probably close to 2-1, that's got to continue.

2. Need the big guns to continue to play well. Arnold, Johnny G, Whitney, Mullane, and Matheson were outstanding last weekend for the most part. If those guys continue to score goals and the bottom six forwards can continue their solid play, BC should win this series.

My Hockey East Predictions-

Maine in 3 (Lowell won tonight)

BC in 2

BU in 2

UNH in 3

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